On November 4, 2004 registered voters in Florida voted to raise the price of minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.15 per hour.
The amendment for the increase in minimum wage was pushed by Dr. Robert Pollin, a professor at the University of Massachusetts and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute.
Pollin said the general reason for the drive to increase minimum wage was that they believe the minimum wage was extremely low.
“It’s impossible for someone to raise a family,” Pollin said.
Employment Standards Administration Wage and Hour Division reported that there are only two states below the minimum wage. Kansas state minimum wage is $2.65 and Ohio’s state minimum wage is $4.25.
Other states, like Texas and Illinois are the same as the federal minimum wage or above.
Some wonder whether Florida businesses would have problems with the change.
According to Pollin, businesses will not be affected by the increase in minimum wage.
“The businesses could absorb the cost that they spend,” Pollin said.
A business like McDonald’s could have a $5 cheeseburger and raise it by 5 cents and could cover the cost.
Smaller businesses have had a harder time adjusting to the extra dollar given to their employees.
“It affects me only because I pay out more. It affects my overall profits,” said Melissa Noland owner of One Stop Shop.
Noland has made drastic changes to cover her new expenses.
“I had to let go of two of employees and work more myself,” she said.
Also, since the increase in minimum wage she has not experience much turnover. She said her employees have continued to be faithful.
Ashley Brown, a 21-year-old junior public relations student from Los Angeles has first hand experience on Florida’s minimum wage difference.
“In summer of 2003, I made $7.75 an hour, the minimum wage in California but when I came to Florida I made $5.50 an hour. It was a huge difference,” she said.
“I now work at CVS and I make the current minimum wage but it still doesn’t compare to what I was making back home.”
Jennifer Joseph, a 20-year-old sophomore pre-physical therapy, health science student from Ft. Lauderdale, is one of the many students who are grateful for the rise in minimum wage.
“The new minimum wage has increased my pay at home. I’m a city employee at home. With out a pay increase I was making $7, but with the increase I make $9,” Joseph said.
“I just started working at the (Tallahassee Memorial) hospital in September 2005. The pay for my job was a $6.50 pay rate. But now since they raised it, the pay raise is $8,” Joseph said.
Pollin said that business could benefit from the increase in minimum wage.
“Workers will become more attached to their jobs, (experiencing) lower absenteeism and turnover,” Pollin said.
“I think that the increase in Florida was an important first step. But I think it should go up higher, he said. “It does matter. It’s a few hundred in their pockets.”
Contact A’sia Horne-Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org